History of Rugs

Three Carpets You Better Not Step On

The Pearl Carpet of Baroda

People who love carpets aspire to own the best carpet they can afford. Landry & Arcari is a great resource with thousands of carpets in stock and annual buying trips to villages of talented weavers in remote locations throughout the East.

The carpets we dream about are masterpieces of fine art with fascinating histories. Among the most expensive carpets sold at auction are the following treasures:

The Pearl Carpet of Baroda was sold for $5.5 million in 2009 according to the auction house Sotheby. This set a record for carpets sold at auction that has since been broken. Only three people bid on it, and the winner is anonymous. The by 8 by 5.5 foot diamond and pearl in crusted masterpiece is woven of silk on deerskin. It was commissioned in 1860 by Hindu Indian ruler Gaekwar Khande Rao who was devoted to Islam. He ordered the carpet to fulfill a vow he had made to cover the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad. Gaekwar died before the carpet was completed, and it remained in the family.

The carpet is densely embroidered, and its design is executed in colored glass beads. The spaces are filled with 1.5 to 2.0 million natural seed pearls from the coasts of Qatar and Bahrain. It has 2,500 diamonds, totaling 350-400 carats, set in silver topped gold. Rubies, emeralds, and sapphires have gold settings.

The last recorded Gaekwad to own the carpet was Maharani Sita Devi, wife of the then Maharaja, Gaekwad Pratapsinh Rao. She took it with her when she moved to Monaco in 1946 to lead a jet set lifestyle. Known as the “Indian Wallis Simpson,” she died in 1989 In Paris. The carpet showed up in a Sotheby auction house in Qatar. The surviving members of the Gaekwad dynasty have no idea how it got there, but they said they were convinced it would show up “one day.”

Mughal Millefleurs “Star Lattice” carpet was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II and used in the family’s New York City, West 57th Street residence. Vanderbilt gave it to his daughter who used it in the family mansion The Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island.  The carpet sold for $6 million by Christie’s London in 2013.

This 12ft.9in. by 13ft.6in carpet is from northern India and woven in the late 17th or early 18th Century. Christie’s listed is as having “very good pile, localized light wear and touches of repiling, a few small repairs, overall very good condition.”  The Pashmina wool carpet has a scarlet field with a golden latticework design of stars enclosing colorful flowers. The carpet is one of only 12 known millefleur rugs from its era. On auction day, two bidders fought for the prize.

The Louis XV Savonnerie carpet was sold in 2000 by Christies auction house in Monaco for $5.7 million to a private collector. The carpet was from the collection of Karl Lagerfeld, a fashion icon from Germany. It is woven after the design by Pierre-Josse Perrot and dates back to 1750. Its brown field is elaborately decorated with the royal arms of France ringed by radiating eagle wings flanking the French royal crown. A blue orb is at the center with its color reflected in the molded gold border. Other symbols of France and royalty complete the design.

Archives show that five carpets of this design were ordered, the first was installed in the king’s dining room at Fountainebleau. The others were given to foreign dignitaries. Art historians believe that the The Louis XV Savonnerie carpet was one of the four used for gifts, because royal carpets that stayed in France were destroyed or damaged during the French Revolution. A fragment exists with the same central orb and all four fleurs-de-lys cut out.

Owning one of these carpets is owning a piece of history. Your carpet is just as important to your family history. Consult with the carpet experts at Landry & Arcari about how to care for it.